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Porter County seeing increase in tourism

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Tourism is booming in Porter County. Indiana Dunes Tourism Executive Director Lorelei Weimer says the Visitor Center is seeing an increase in business — which could be seen just from the cars in the parking lot.

"Just to give you a perspective of where people are coming from, we had Indiana, of course, Kentucky, Utah, Louisiana, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. And that was just when I went out at lunch. That's happening all the time, everyday," Weimar told the Porter County Council Tuesday.

She said the Visitor Center's bike rental has done $6,000 dollars in business, and a penny smashing machine has brought in more than $2,000 since last September. Weimer attributes the increase in tourism to the Dunes' national park designation.

"So it just gives you an indication what we have sitting in Porter County and the asset that Porter County has," she added.

Last week, the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center formally kicked off the development of the Indigenous Cultural Trail. It will honor the Indigenous Peoples whose traditional land the Visitor Center and national park currently occupy.

"We had a huge ceremony with both the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Tribe. We will be flying both of their flags at the Visitor Center, and that's a huge deal to get that permission. And we did a land acknowledgement with both the national park and the two tribes," Weimer said.

The Porter County Council agreed to let Indiana Dunes Tourism spend another $7,600 out of the tourism fund, to cover rising costs and employee health insurance.